Couro Ecológico's purses are made from sustainably harvested natural rubber from the Brazilian Amazon.
Couro Ecológico, or "ecological leather," is handmade by Amazonian artisans overlaying the extract of the latex of the Brazilian rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) onto cotton. This cotton-latex overlay is sun-dried and transformed into a waterproof, durable material with similar texture and durability to animal leather. The artisans stitch it together to make purses and other "leather" goods which are sold locally and internationally. The income earned by selling the finished products is significantly higher than what could be earned from selling the raw latex. Since the latex can be harvested without harming the trees, the Couro Ecológico business is sustainable over the long term.
Couro Ecológico was founded in 1997 by residents of Maguary, a tiny community located in the Tapajós National Forest in Brazil. The enterprise has now grown to employ over 15 workers — men and women — in an area with extremely few employment and economic options. The company provides vital income to these residents, making them less dependent on foreign and government aid. Couro Ecológico functions as an association owned by the workers. The member artisans do not earn wages, but instead share the proceeds from each item sold. Enterprises such as Couro Ecológico serve as successful models for other community members and neighboring communities to follow.
CEN's online Couro Ecológico store (retail)
Couro Ecológico wholesale customer website
Couro Ecológico brochure (English) (596KB PDF)
Couro Ecológico brochure (Portuguese) (604KB PDF)
Couro Ecológico catalog (Portuguese) (90KB PDF)
Video: CEN and Couro Ecológico; Preserving a Way of Life in the Amazon